By Don Crosby
For The Markdale Standard
During the recent visit of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound federal Liberal candidate Kim Love to Markdale, Dr. Hamilton Hall said there’s good reason for continued optimism about the future of the Markdale hospital. Hall said the ministry of health officials are re-examining the original idea of a hospital to replace the existing Centre Grey Hospital on a new larger green site at the south end of town next door to Grey Gables, the county senior’s home.
Hall says the ministry planners are seriously looking at a concept for one-stop health care centre that would combine a hospital with doctor’s clinic and other ancillary services such as community care access services. For some time now South East Grey Community Health Centre has been approved. And up until now it has a budget for staff and professionals but no place to operate.
Hall says that while this type of facility is more common in the more remote parts of the province he thinks the ministry of health is looking for a model or template for southern rural communities and Markdale might well be part of that planning.
Hall told Love and Dr. Carolyn Bennett, the federal Liberal party health critic last week, that the county owned property next to Grey Gables is ideal. There’s plenty of space for all kinds of services and room to grow in the future. He noted that while the number of beds in a new facility would likely be reduced he stressed the importance of having some kind of hospital facility in Markdale which is currently the only emergency care facility between Orangeville and Owen Sound. And with the presence of the local recreational ski resort in the nearby Beaver Valley and winter road closures to Meaford, Markdale is a critical link in the emergency services in the area.
Earlier this year it was learned that the ministry of health had released an additional $1.3 million for the second stage of planning and design. That’s in addition to the $900,000 that was given a few years ago to pay for the early stages of planning and design. It’s part of $3 million that was promised by a former health minister several years ago.
Maureen Solecki, president and CEO of the Grey Bruce Health Services recently said the latest proposal has the support of the Local Health Integration Network. As recently as last month officials from the Grey Bruce Health Services were to meet with the ministry’s capital branch. Hall says these incremental movements along a slow path are all good signs that the plan is alive and being taken seriously. he says it’s important to stay in touch with ministry officials to remind them that the people of Markdale are still waiting and that they have done their share by raising about $13 million, their share of any new hospital.
Hall is optimistic and says people have to be patient. He said nobody knows what motivates the government to make decisions on large capital items. The last estimate was that a new hospital would cost in the neighbourhood of $60 million. he says Markdale is still on the radar with the ministry and the best that can be done is to continue to keep up the pressure on the government and to be patient. “These things can take a long time…we’re still in play,” Hall said.